Birth Defect Lawsuits

Structural or internal birth defects harm close to two-hundred thousand infants delivered in the US each year.

Efficacious congenital disorders may entail neurological abnormalities, learning and attention disorders, autism, or defective immune systems; and albeit birth defects can lead to fatality, most produce exclusive lifetime physical or mental impairments.

The majority of parents ask “what happened” when babies arrive or when doctors later diagnose their toddlers with birth defects. Sometimes mothers blame themselves thinking they erred in prenatal care; this is not always the case.

Healthcare officials do not know why birth defects develop, but what they do know is congenital disorders and problems during pregnancy occur after some expectant mothers take certain over-the-counter medications, use discrepant prescription drugs, encounter specific man-made environmental elements or come into contact with dangerous industrial chemicals.

Parents who believe third-party acts contributed to their child’s birth defect consider litigation and seek out birth defect attorneys to redress malpractice, environmental or chemical exposure issues.

Birth Defects Definition

Birth defects are unnatural mild or severe modifications to one or more parts of a newborn’s body that affects appearance, mental efficiency, limb functionality or internal organ operation; childbirth defects arise frequently in the heart, the brain, arms or legs.

Types of Birth Defects

Birth defects may develop within the first twelve to twenty-four months of an infant’s life, but some congenital disorders arise before birth or even several years afterward.

Depending on the type, parents or physicians can identify birth defects by sight; yet, confirming diagnoses may call for special medical tests to establish existence and severity.

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), typical birth defects in the US include:

  • Congenital Heart Defects (CDC): The most frequent type of birth defect, CDCs strike an infant’s heart system and function. Forty thousand babies arrive in the US with CDCs, and a quarter of the toddlers will need corrective surgery to survive.
  • Cleft Palates: avulsion of mouth or lip formation during pregnancy, occurring in twelve percent of babies born each year in the US.
  • Neurological Defects: abnormal spine or brain tissue in a toddler; this injury is often crippling or life-threatening. 
  • Down syndrome: A condition when an infant’s genome contains excessive chromosomes. The centromere affects how brain and body grow and frequently causes mental and physical difficulties. One in seven hundred babies acquire Down syndrome annually in the US.

Third-Party Birth Defects Links

Parents should examine if third-party acts contributed to their child’s birth defect if exposure to any of the subsequent conditions took place during the mother’s pregnancy:

Prescription Medication

Prescription drugs found in serotonin 5-HT3 categories cause birth defects.

Pharmaceutical companies developed these medications to stop nausea and vomiting following surgery and chemotherapy; some physicians even prescribed these drugs to expectant mothers during pregnancy to help them deal with morning sickness.

Specific medicines used to manage acute acne may also advance auditory, heart, neurological and physical birth defects. Mood stabilizers that treat depression are likewise unsafe to unborn fetuses as well as are most anti-seizure medications.

  • Zofran, Topamax
  • Accutane (isotretinoin)
  • SSRIs–Celexa(citalopram),, Paxil, Prozac(fluoxetine) and Zoloft(sertraline),  Prozac (paroxetine) and Lexapro (escitalopram)
  • Phenylephrine
  • Dilantin, Lamictal, Neurontin, Tegretol
  • Opioids

Over-The-Counter Medications

Popular over-the-counter pain relievers pose a potential fetal risk. These drugs may produce birth defects when taken during the first two trimesters of pregnancy and may encourage birth delivery complications when ingested during the third trimester.

  • Aspirin
  • Dimetapp Cold and Allergy
  • Excedrin
  • Castor oil
  • Certain congestion relief medicines
  • Advil, Motrin, Aleve
  • Cigarettes

Environmental Contamination

Man-made chemicals and natural toxins also lead to birth defects. Saccharin and Aspartame (sugar substitutes) used in unreasonable quantities may present dangers to unborn infants. Petroleum products carry Benzene composites that have caused fetal deformities in lab animals.

Insecticides like Dursban or dangerous herbicides found in Roundup contain cancer-causing toxins that may expose agricultural laborers to birth defect risks or may contaminate farming groundwater. Pesticides can attach to clothing and remain in human and animal tissue for up to one month after a single exposure.

  • Nutra-sweet or saccharin sugar substitutes
  • Amethopterin or endocrine disruptors or Phthalates
  • Bisphenol petroleum products
  • Triklone, Neu-Tri, or any household cleaner that contain Trichloroethylene
  • Chlorpyrifos, formaldehyde or glyphosate-based pesticides (Roundup)

Lead and Mercury Exposure Claims

The EPA suggests any grade of lead or mercury exposure can produce illnesses and have adverse reproductive effects in both men and women. Scientists have further verified these heavy metals can cause fetus harm; lead exposure usually affects unborn babies during the first trimester.

Expectant mothers find lead and mercury in open batteries, metals, paint, enamels, and gun ammunition. Individuals may likewise encounter toxic mercury and lead in construction material, at high-tech workplaces or inside consumer electronic devices. Leaded pipes also contaminate drinking water, and older scented candles product have lead wicks.

Methylmercury can impair fetal development as well. Historically linked to workplace contact, recent research has examined fish and seafood product as prime sources for mercury contamination.

Mercury levels excel in older marine species, and the FDA advises pregnant women and infants to avoid consuming long-living fish like swordfish, halibut, and mackerel due to the high mercury levels in their meat.

  • Fish product
  • High-tech, clean room environments that contain lead solvents
  • Open batteries or broken electronics
  • Brown drinking water or water sources from older buildings

Notable Birth Defect Litigation


Thousands of families have filed Zofran lawsuits claiming GlaxoSmithKline’s anti-nausea drug causes birth defects. The FDA never approved Zofran for treatment during pregnancy, but GlaxoSmithKline nonetheless promoted its wonder drug to OB-GYNs after 2000.

Two years later, Zofran became the top-selling morning sickness drug in the nation. Since then, scientists have confirmed the drug causes heighten cleft palate risk in infants, and GlaxoSmithKline has paid over three billion dollars to birth defect victims who ingested Zofran while in the womb.

Chlorpyrifos and Glyphosate-Based Pesticides

A preteen California boy sued agricultural companies in 2015, seeking redress for harm sustained in utero after his farm working mother was carelessly and recklessly exposed to chlorpyrifos and glyphosate pesticides. State courts will hear this case later this year.


The FDA approved Lexapro in 2002, to manage panic and depression. Modernly, researchers discovered the medication causes life-threatening irregular heart rhythms in newborns. Parents filed lawsuits after data proved Lexapro abuts to congenital heart defects. The lawsuits induced the FDA to declare a black-box Lexapro warning, advising pregnant mothers to stay away from the drug. 


Over one hundred parents sued Abbott Laboratories Inc, in 2010, alleging their antiepileptic medication was responsible for their child’s birth defect. Some mothers who took Depakote (divalproex sodium) while pregnant delivered infants with Down syndrome or with debilitating neurological birth defects. Federal and state courts forced Abbott to pay $1.5 billion in fines for illegally marketing Depakote and for misbranding the drug for treating the mentally ill.

Birth Defect Specialists

Families who believe they have causes of action should seek the help of birth defect legal authorities like Sanders Phillips Grossman who has experience in dealing with multi-million dollar healthcare lawsuits. Our group has the resources to attack powerful industries that have caused damage to innocent young children.

SPG’s birth defect investigators use world-renowned experts in medicine toxicology, genetics, embryology and many other science professions to prove up birth defect claims. Our attorneys force corporate responses by pursuing justice for harms that could have averted if companies would have just been more careful.

Sanders Phillips Grossman is a national law firm and has represented healthcare victims and consumers for over forty years.